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SBD Global/August 6, 2012/Olympics

Prestige Ticketing Tops $150M For London Games' Hospitality Enterprise

High-end hospitality sales at the Olympic Park and five other venues have topped $150M, defying the recession and turning the first-time venture into a profitable enterprise for Prestige Ticketing, the firm's top executive said. The London Games are the first-ever to feature high-end, on-site hospitality that includes meals, drinks and tickets. Historically, the only hospitality at venues was for members of the IOC and their guests. But the success of Prestige Ticketing, a joint-venture that paid more than $30M for the rights, may change that at future Games. Prestige Ticketing's COO Alan Gilpin said the company has sold more than 99% of its packages. Only a few packages remain for the gold-medal basketball games. Gilpin: "That's a hell of an achievement in this market. It's a tribute to the level of interest in the Olympic Games."

A NEW STRATEGY: When London organizers decided to create new a hospitality offering for the Olympics, it put the rights to the package out to bid. Sodexo, a service and management company headquartered in France, and the Mike Burton Group, a sports and corporate hospitality company based in the U.K., won those rights. The resulting joint-venture company, Prestige, set up hospitality at six venues: Olympic Park, Eton Dorney (rowing), Horse Guards Parade (beach volleyball), Greenwich Park (equestrian), North Greenwich Arena (gymnastics and basketball) and Wimbledon. Packages ranged in price from $12,000 per ticket for the opening ceremony to $795 for rowing qualification events. Most tickets included breakfast, a four-course lunch and a champagne reception. Corporations bought approximately 80% of the tickets, and Gilpin said many of them are using the tickets for international guests. Individuals bought the other 20%.

HITTING THEIR MARKS: Gilpin said the company has surpassed its sales goal of $150M, ensuring it will be profitable, but he added that it won't be as profitable as it had hoped because of the amount it invested into the hospitality venues and services. Prestige spent $12M building a three-story temporary facility in the shadow of the Olympic Stadium. Gilpin said Prestige is using the venue as a showcase for what it could do at other sports events. He brought through members of the IOC this week and will host guests from UEFA and Rio 2016 before the Games end. It's too late for Sochi 2014 to add a similar hospitality package to the Winter Games, but Rio could follow in London organizers' footsteps and sell a similar package for '16. Gilpin: "We think it would work in Rio. They'll have a much more robust hospitality marketing after the World Cup."
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